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Panzura scores $80 million funding to grow storage footprint

Startup aims to add more than 150 workers by the end of 2022

Cloud storage company Panzura has received an $80 million injection in a Series B funding round, which CEO Jill Stelfox says it'll use to build a "different" kind of storage company.

"The whole storage industry and management of end user data hasn't changed in 20 years," Stelfox told The Register. "We think we've got a shot at bringing it all together and making a real change."

Panzura competes in the enterprise cloud-based NAS market, with its hybrid cloud-based CloudFS. More recently, the file sync-and-sharer added cloud outage failover, shared NFS and SMB access, and Hyper-V support via its Data Flex release in February this year.

The current funding round was led by Kayne Anderson and CIBC Innovation Banking.

Founded in 2008, the company was bought for an undisclosed sum in 2020 by Profile Capital Management, an investment management business, as outlined on our sister site, Blocks & Files, at the time. Prior to this, it had taken in a total of $90m in funding over five rounds.

Panzura underwent a complete restructuring after Stelfox and chief revenue officer Dan Waldschmidt acquired the storage startup in the earliest days of the pandemic, in what it last year called a "refounding."

Initially the duo were brought in to help the company raise funding, Stelfox said. "What we figured out is the product was amazing… We bought the assets of the company in May of 2020. We kept the name, but changed everything else."

In the 20 months since, the company brought eight new products to market, designed to help customers manage data across multiple clouds and private datacenters, comply with data governance policies, and mitigate the risk of ransomware.

Stelfox compares Panzura's platform to Office 365 for large, collaborative datasets.

The challenge for many enterprises is that Office 365 is suitable for collaborating on Word documents, but won't do you any good if you need to collaborate on Adobe files or mortgage documents.

That's where Panzura fits in. It allows customers to manage and collaborate on files – regardless of where they are – at scale, Stelfox said.

Additionally, the CEO told us, the platform uses ML and analytics to track when something is being worked on, by whom, and whether the file is in compliance with the company's data governance policies.

This capability has taken on new meaning as ransomware attacks have surged, Stelfox said, explaining that this same ML functionality can be used to identify, lock down, and recover from ransomware attacks.

"We know when something's going wrong because we know what it looks like when it's going right," she explained.

Once the attack has been detected, the platform enables customers to recover from a last known good snapshot. "Like the old school Apple Time Machine, we roll back in time to 60 seconds ago before all hell broke loose," Stelfox said. This can have a dramatic effect reducing downtime after ransomware attacks, she claimed: "Instead of days and days and days, we brought a hospital back in 2.5 hours."

The capabilities have helped the company compete against rivals Dell, NetApp, and Qumulo, Stelfox said, while securing large customer wins from the likes of Disney, Milwaukee Tool, BBC America, AmeriHome Mortgage, among others.

$80m to scale business, maintain culture

Since rebooting the company in 2020, Stelfox has instituted a perpetual remote work policy, eliminated the gender-wage gap, and provided each employee with $5,000 toward career and life coaching.

Stelfox hopes to maintain this company culture as Panzura looks to scale up its sales force to meet growing demand from channel partners.

Up until this point, "we've invested really heavily in technology to get to that cloud data management space," Stelfox said, adding that with this latest cash infusion the company can scale its sales and marketing teams to bring the technology to new customers.

Panzura expects to add more than 150 staff members by the end of the year. ®

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